Saturday, November 09, 2002

HACKWORTH: My concern is not whether our warriors – thousands of whom are about to hook up with tens of thousands more around the Persian Gulf, where they'll all remain on hold until whenever, because politics is out-of-sync with the realities of war-fighting – are up for the job, but if their biological and chemical gear can adequately protect them. For it's a given that Saddam will try to splash our troops with every bio/chem weapon he's got before he's incinerated. And immediately after the first such attack, we'll just as surely dispatch nukes and do unto Iraq as we did unto Japan.
The Pentagon is constructing a computer system that could create a vast electronic dragnet, searching for personal information as part of the hunt for terrorists around the globe — including the United States.

In order to deploy such a system, known as Total Information Awareness, new legislation would be needed, some of which has been proposed by the Bush administration in the Homeland Security Act that is now before Congress. That legislation would amend the Privacy Act of 1974, which was intended to limit what government agencies could do with private information.

How the hell did Adm. John Poindexter stage a comeback?
Hmmmmm ... Lots of interesting tidbits in this article. Go read it here.

President Bush has settled on a war plan for Iraq that would begin with an air campaign shorter than the one for the Persian Gulf war, senior administration officials say. It would feature swift ground actions to seize footholds in the country and strikes to cut off the leadership in Baghdad.

The plan, approved in recent weeks by Mr. Bush well before the Security Council's unanimous vote on Friday to disarm Iraq, calls for massing 200,000 to 250,000 troops for attack by air, land and sea. The offensive would probably begin with a "rolling start" of substantially fewer forces, Pentagon and military officials say.
Posted all along the road north, from Kuwait City to the Iraqi border, are small detachments of GIs, hidden under camouflage netting and cautiously watching the desultory traffic passing them by. Kuwaiti construction teams are hard at work improving the road, fitting lighting and laying new tarmac, despite the fact that the border has been closed since the Gulf War 11 years ago. "Either the Kuwaitis are very optimistic about a speedy and peaceful resolution to the crisis, or the US military want to have their main supply route into Iraq in tip-top condition," was the wry comment of one western diplomat.
The election was Nov. 5, but the date to remember is Sept. 11. Republicans did well Tuesday because the president is a Republican who has mobilized national support behind the war against terrorism.
That's how matters stood in American politics until the attack on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on September 11. That event - and Bush's energetic response to it in Afghanistan - revived the Republicans' reputation as the party of national security and contributed to Bush's soaring popularity. The shadow of September 11, lengthened perhaps by the profile of Saddam Hussein, continues to fall over American politics.
It became politically insufficient merely to stick with the first tax cut of $1.35 trillion - even though it already has helped turn record surpluses into triple-digit deficits, showers most of its benefits on the wealthy and crimps the government's ability to pay even for those things the president wants, like the planned war in Iraq.

Now the president and his party, not to mention the business lobbyists who are salivating into their chardonnay, have grabbed the gold. The next grab is for their wallets, to see just how much they can stuff in.

Speaking of the Environmental Protection Agency, did you know that Washington already is refusing funding for toxic cleanups regional EPA officials insist are urgent and already are in progress? Money shortfalls in the Superfund program - previously financed by a tax on polluters that Bush refuses to renew - are blamed. Did you know the Internal Revenue Service can't go after wealthy, sophisticated tax cheats because it doesn't have enough funds to conduct audits and investigations?
That paragon of conservative virtue, Prof. Reynolds, gets his unctuous little ethics in a dither, thusly:

ORRIN JUDD calls Garrison Keillor a "Gutless Weasel" for his nasty insinuations regarding Norm Coleman.

What astounds me about the Left over the past few months is the way in which racism, antisemitism and homophobia have become the stock-in-trade of its house provocateurs. Some are still trying to deny that this is so, but the evidence just keeps piling up. It's a downward spiral into nastiness that goes a long way toward explaining the election results all by itself.

Ever heard the saying about glass houses, dude? There's plenty of nastiness to go around. The very fact that you linked to Judd linking to Salon via Free Republic says quite a bit. Have you ever read the racism, antisemitism (Arabs are semitic) and homophobia occurring hourly at Free Republic, Professor? Lets not pretend, shall we? The point Keillor was making was about the hypocrisy and self-righteousness of the right, a condition which you highlighted in your disingenuous little hissy fit. Play it straight up or stop playing.

"Sexual abuse in the family causes the most pain because the trust is violated on all levels," she said. "The father or the uncle say nothing, nor do the mother and the sisters. It happens regularly — the incest, the beatings, the abortions. Girls commit suicide. But no one says anything. And social workers are sworn to professional secrecy."

"At the very least Islam is facing backward and it has failed to provide a moral framework for our time," she said in one conversation. "If the West wants to help modernize Islam, it should invest in women because they educate the children."

But critics of Ms. Pelosi in both parties agree that Ms. Pelosi's elevation to one of the two senior Democratic positions in Congress could be as much help for Republicans as for Democrats.

"I want to know where I send the flowers," said Nelson Warfield, a conservative Republican political consultant. "I am ecstatic. She'll be a working poster-board for what's wrong with the Democratic Party. Across the board, she is a plus for Republicans."

Pelosi is a mistake.

The Bush administration has big ideas. It believes that toppling Saddam Hussein is the slam-dunk gambit that will remake the Arab world to our liking (and Israel's). It has codified a security strategy built on the notion of pre-emptive war. It believes in the partial privatization of Social Security, in rewarding the very wealthiest with a repeal of the estate tax, and in tailoring every conceivable policy, including those governing human, fiscal and environmental health, to the needs of its corporate sponsors. Many Democratic politicians are opposed to these ideas — or at least to those not supported by Mr. McAuliffe's high-rollers — but that's not the same as having big ideas of their own.
While some Wall Street executives are hoping the Republican success in this week's elections will slow the drive to reform securities-industry practices, a senior Treasury Department official yesterday told members of the Securities Industry Association that they should be backing more corporate financial disclosure, not less.
A senior Western diplomat said today that all indicators from the investigation of the bombing, which killed 180 people, including 87 Australians and 7 Americans, were "pointing in the direction" of the operational leader for Al Qaeda in southeast Asia being the mastermind of the blast.

They believed that Bali was a haunt of Americans, and afterward were "not happy because Australians were killed in big numbers," General Pastika said. The attackers sought revenge for "what Americans have done to Muslims," General Pastika said.

The U.S. citizen killed by a missile launched from a pilotless drone aircraft over Yemen was the ringleader of an alleged terrorist sleeper cell in Lackawanna, N.Y., administration officials said yesterday.
Additionally, the Pentagon is expected to scratch plans to extend the tours of two aircraft carriers -- the Abraham Lincoln and the George Washington -- that have been within striking distance of Iraq, allowing them to sail back to the United States after the arrival soon of replacement carriers -- the Constellation and the Harry Truman. In Kuwait, a fresh brigade of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division already has started rolling in to relieve a brigade that has been training there for nearly six months. And the Air Force also is counting on rotating some of its warplanes in and out of the region.
Such movements will allow the Pentagon to keep troops fresh while sustaining higher-than-normal force levels in the Iraq area, notably, two aircraft carriers instead of one and more than double the previous number of about 2,000 infantry soldiers in Kuwait. The Pentagon also has deployed an unspecified number of additional Special Operations forces and sent a battalion of Apache attack helicopters from Germany to Kuwait.
Significantly, however, few would say that they believe war could be avoided.
"There are people who think there will be no problem whatsoever to determine material breach, that Saddam will provide ample evidence," said one senior U.S. official. "I'm not so sure about that. It might be a more creeping violation, with really no smoking gun."

"The key to the next few months is getting a couple of good defectors," one senior administration official said today. "That's why we put in the perjury clause." That provision in the Security Council resolution stipulates that any omission from Mr. Hussein's list would itself constitute a "material breach," and give Mr. Bush the basis for military action.

White House officials said today they were fairly confident that Mr. Hussein would attempt to undermine the inspections sooner or later. Their plan, which they make little effort to conceal, is to force him into a misstep — one that would be obvious to the Security Council — as early as possible.

"The issue all along with the Europeans was: were we looking for an excuse to start a war, or a resolution to solve the problem?" said an administration official. "We had to convince people that if we wanted to go to war, we didn't need an excuse. We had to make the case that the stronger the resolution was, the more likely a war could be avoided."

The most important was the use of the phrase "material breach" to describe past and possibly future misdeeds by Iraq. The two words were considered crucial because the resolution being "breached" was the declaration of a cease-fire at the end of the last Iraq war in 1991, in which Baghdad promised to disarm. A "breach" would thus automatically imply an end to the cease-fire.

To avoid war, the Iraqi leader has seven days to accept the resolution and pledge his compliance. Within 30 days, by Dec. 8, he must produce a full and accurate list of Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and secret ballistic missile developments to demonstrate that he is ready to become the primary agent of his own disarmament.

By all accounts, United Nations inspectors will do very little inspecting and will base their appraisal of Iraqi cooperation on the accuracy of the "confession" that Mr. Hussein will have to make about the weapons projects whose existence he had denied and which administration officials have said he has been hiding in secret bunkers, underground caves and mobile laboratories.

Kuwait's ambassador to Washington, Salem Abdullah al-Jaber al-Sabah, said this week that his country had sealed off one-third of its territory to make it available to American troops who are flooding into the desert on Iraq's southern border.
Sheik Salem said that there was a consensus among Arab leaders in the Persian Gulf that war was coming, but that his greatest concern was the failure of the United States to consult with its friends on how to provide for Iraq's 23 million people and for political stability in the aftermath of war.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Josh Marshall's excellent review of Pollack's book: The essence of the problem is straightforward. Iraq sits astride the chokepoint of the world economy, the oil-rich Middle East. Saddam has a long history of aggression, brutality, and, most important, ill-considered and reckless actions. So long as he has only conventional weapons we can overawe him with our armed forces and clobber him back into line if he misbehaves. Once he gets nuclear weapons, though, everything will change. And there is little doubt that, left to his own devices, he will acquire them in the not-too-distant future. (One theme running through this book is Pollack's belief--no doubt accurate--that nuclear weapons are the real issue, with chemicals and bioweapons running several laps behind. Frightening as they are, it is simply very difficult to kill large numbers of people with chemical or biological weapons.)
NEEDLESS to say I hope a miracle happens and Frost becomes the new House leader. The fucking FREEPERS want Pelosi! Think about it.: 'Like the guy said, 'I've been rich and I've been poor, and rich is better,'" Frost continued. "If we want to be in the majority, we have to accept reality and fight on the economic issues where Democrats can gain traction. But if we're not seen as standing for a strong America, as the President is seen, then we'll never have the chance to be heard on the other issues." Frost says he isn't advocating that "we become a Republican-lite party," but insists "we'll never win again if we want to be pure on every traditionally liberal issue.
"I am clearly more in the center of the party than Nancy, and that's where the country is," he says. "The question is, do we want to reflect the country and recapture the White House and Congress or do we not? We can't lead and ask to be the majority if we operate from a position of weakness on foreign and defense policy."

and ...

Indeed, her race for the post of minority leader against Rep. Martin Frost, a Texas moderate, is shaping up as a broader referendum on the party's future. Frost is warning members that electing a liberal such as Pelosi, who has fought Bush over Iraq and other foreign policy issues, might create a "permanent minority party." But scores of members seem to disagree.

Rep. James P. Moran Jr. of Northern Virginia, a Pelosi backer, said the California lawmaker will have the race wrapped up as early as today, although several members said they want more time to think about their setbacks in the elections before officially picking a leader. The vote is by secret ballot.
Frost and many other Democrats worry that Pelosi might pull the party so far to the left that swing voters in middle America will flock to Republicans. Her base is made up of the 30-plus House Democrats from California, who tend to be more liberal than most of the country, and her voting record suggests that Bush would have a harder time striking deals with her than he did with Gephardt.

HITCHENS again: Once this self-evident point has been appreciated, it becomes a matter of making a virtue of necessity. If an intervention helps rescue Iraq from mere anarchy and revenge, some of the potential virtues are measurable in advance. The recuperation of the Iraqi oil industry represents the end of the Saudi monopoly, [ed. note: This is a good thing.] and we know that there are many Wolfowitzians who yearn for this but cannot prudently say so in public. The mullahs in Iran hate America more than they hate Saddam, while Iranian public opinion—notice how seldom "the Iranian street" is mentioned by peaceniks—takes a much more pro-American view. It's hard to picture the disappearance of the Saddam regime as anything but an encouragement to civil and democratic forces in Tehran, as well as in Bahrain, Qatar, and other gulf states that are experimenting with democracy and women's rights. Turkey will be wary about any increase in Kurdish autonomy (another good cause by the way), but even the Islamists in Turkey are determined to have a closer association with the European Union, and the EU has made it clear that Turkey's own Kurds must be granted more recognition before this can occur. One might hope that no American liberal would want to demand any less.

From conversations I have had on this subject in Washington, I would say that the most fascinating and suggestive conclusion is this: After Sept. 11, several conservative policy-makers decided in effect that there were "root causes" behind the murder-attacks. These "root causes" lay in the political slum that the United States has been running in the region, and in the rotten nexus of client-states from Riyadh to Islamabad. Such causes cannot be publicly admitted, nor can they be addressed all at once. But a slum-clearance program is beginning to form in the political mind.

A group of Al Qaeda operatives met in Thailand and discussed plans to attack bars, nightclubs and tourist resorts throughout the region months before the October bombing in Bali killed more than 190 people, Asian and Western officials said this week.
The group was led by a senior lieutenant of Osama bin Laden and included a Qaeda explosives expert, who was later arrested and told American officials of the January meeting during his interrogation.
"They talked about hitting soft Western targets throughout Southeast Asia," an American official said. The blast at an Indonesian resort area in Bali may have been the first such attack, Western diplomats said.

"We have already seen in recent months more and more information that tourist centers are under threat," the chief of German intelligence, August Hanning, said this week. "It is because tourist centers cannot be guarded."
Myers, the nation's top military officer, suggested it may be time for the military to "flip" its priorities from combat operations aimed at hunting down al Qaeda and Taliban fighters to "the reconstruction piece in Afghanistan," a notable shift in priorities for an a Pentagon that has eschewed nation-building exercises.

Ivo H. Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, called a shift in priorities by the military in Afghanistan away from pursuing al Qaeda and toward reconstruction "noteworthy and extremely important." But Daalder said he doubted whether Myers or Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would commit U.S. forces to "tackling the fundamental security problem in Afghanistan, which is not al Qaeda, but a byproduct of the way we fought -- arming the warlords."

Added one senior officer: "It's the general consensus within the [special operations] community that al Qaeda is extremely adaptive and very cagey. These guys are not weekend terrorists."

"What I'd really like someone to do is to talk to a sports marketing expert and find out how I could have licensed this thing from the beginning," says Okrent, who recently left Time magazine after a decade as a writer and editor there. "If I had a penny for everyone who ever owned a fantasy sports team -- you can fill in the rest of that sentence.
President Bush received a recommendation yesterday from Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to inoculate U.S. troops against smallpox but did not immediately accept it. One White House official said the Pentagon had not answered many of the president's questions.
To: WASP working class rednecks who vote Republican
Subj: The Republican party is your buddy!

His National Association of Wholesaler Distributors endorsed 256 candidates in 44 states, just 13 of them Democrats. Member businesses advised their workers on candidates, stuffed paycheck envelopes with voter guides, whipped together political Web sites, got employees to the polls, even pushed absentee balloting and early voting when they could.

Topping the list for small businesses is the permanent repeal of the estate tax. Under last year's tax cut, the estate tax would be repealed in 2010, then return in 2011, and that is not good enough, say business lobbyists. The tax may hit fewer than 2 percent of all estates a year, but the demands for its repeal still evoke near-religious fervor.

[ed. note] The estate tax is the tax the Republicans refer to constantly as the "death tax", hoping to scare working class people into believing "oh no my family will have to pay a tax on my death". No, that's not true. Unless you have an estate such as that of Bruce Wayne of Wayne Manor, it will not affect you. It is a tax on rich people who can afford it. If --when now -- it is repealed, the effect will be to allow your friendly neighborhood filthy rich person to buy that 2nd or 3rd Lexus they've always wanted with your tax money or cash taken from programs that could make a better government for you. Back to the article ...

Corporations would like to redirect the pre-election push to thwart companies seeking to reincorporate their headquarters in offshore tax havens like Bermuda. Turning corporation bashing on its head, lobbyists will push Congress to change the way the United States taxes sales overseas, cutting the overall business tax rate and thereby making relocations for tax purposes less of a tax windfall.

[ed. note] Ie., the Republican party wishes to reward -- or at least make life easier -- for those American corporations who relocate outside the U.S. and thus rob Americans of jobs. But they'll protect your gun rights, though.

Indeed, no industry will have more chits to call in than the pharmaceutical business. Drug companies financed negative advertising blitzes by third-party interest groups. They showered $18 million on candidates, three-fourths of them Republican, and they mobilized volunteers for their own get-out-the-vote drives. "The pharmaceuticals were on a plane all by themselves," said one health care lobbyist. What they want is big: a prescription-drug benefit for seniors that will be administered through private-sector insurers, not Medicare.

[ed. note] Ie., your prescription drug prices will go up under the new Republican congress, and the drug companies will get richer. However, they will protect your gun rights.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

The buzz at Cornell University is that the school is considering selling vibrators in its dispensary.
Yes, vibrators. And no, these devices, despite what you may think, are NOT used to relieve "sore muscles." But we're told they do provide "relief."
Iraq has agreed to new weapons inspections in principle but says the new resolution amounts to a declaration of war because it sets "impossible conditions" on disarming Iraq.

Deadlines for Iraq and the weapons inspectors under the resolution:
7 days: Iraq must confirm whether it will "comply fully" with the resolution
30 days: Iraq must reveal all programmes, plants and materials which could be used for weapons production
45 days: Inspectors must be allowed to resume their checks
105 days: Inspectors have 60 days from their arrival to report back to the Security Council but may report violations earlier

Den Beste says France blinked.

He also prodded the lawmakers who will reconvene next Tuesday in the lame-duck Congress, saying that creation of a homeland security department is ``the single most important item of unfinished business on Capitol Hill.''

Maybe it's just a case of being pissed off after the election but, tell me, aren't conservatives supposed to be against big government?

And doesn't "homeland security" sound just a little bit Soviet-like or Orwellian?

We don't need this department. Bush needs to get the FBI, CIA, NSA, etc. to work together and do their jobs. And he needs to FIRE some people over the most monumental security breakdown in this nation's history on 9/11, as well as take some personal responsibility for he and his security advisors blowing it.
It has always been thus there, Mr. Schwartz contends, or, at least, it has been thus since the 18th century when an obscure, vengeful, narrow vagabond-cleric named Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab became the spiritual leader of a Saudi tribe, the House of Saud, that eventually became masters of most of the Arabian peninsula. Mr. Schwartz's book is essentially a history of Wahhabism, which is still Saudi Arabia's official, exclusive and, in Mr. Schwartz's view, darkly medieval religion.

His central theme is that Wahhabism has over the centuries waged a bitter struggle against all other variants of Islam, most particularly the tolerant, peaceful, poetically mystical schools of thought that, in Mr. Schwartz's view, are the true and admirable historic Islam. Moreover, he maintains that Wahhabism, which gave rise to Osama bin Laden and the Afghan Taliban among others, is the most dread menace faced in the world today by the forces of tolerance and pluralism, whether Muslim or otherwise.

"Wahhabism exalts and promotes death in every element of its existence, the suicide of its adherents, mass murder as a weapon against civilization, and above all the suffocation of the mercy embodied in Islam," Mr. Schwartz writes. "The war against Wahhabism is therefore a war to the death, as the Second World War was a war to the death against fascism. But triumph over death is the victory of life."

"The real exporters of international Islamic extremism were the Saudis," though "the Saudis did not miss the opportunity to stoke the Western fear of Iran in order to bolster their false image as Arab `moderates.' "
Tom Spencer has this on Republican tax cuts and deficits, and it's very good: Of course, you and I will see absolutely none of this "tax relief." That's the beauty of this stuff for Republicans. All they have to do is convince the multitudes of unsophisticated rubes in the South and the Midwest that they'll get a tax cut and it's smooth-sailing at election time.

It is a constant source of amazement to me how the Republicans have conned the WASP, working class, redneck* types. How on earth can anyone believe the Republican party is on the side of the working man? They are and have been for a century or more the party of the rich, for the rich, by the rich. A plutocracy. And yet these dumbass white male rednecks – particulary in the south but elsewhere, too – get all warm and fuzzy when Bush (whose background is aristocratic, for Gods’ sake) says “tax cut”. Obviously, these mental midgets are not looking into who these tax cuts are for!

Take last year’s Bush tax cuts for the rich and corporations, and the promised rebates for the working man/woman/family. Why can’t these people figure out that even if they get a tax break or rebate, they will be paying more for energy of all kinds; for utilities; for insurance of all kinds, if they can even get insurance; for health care; for prescription drugs; for gasoline in their pickups; for telecommunication; for all goods and services; for life; hell, even the cost of funerals has gone up during the Bush administration … why can’t they see that? That while they may get a slight tax break they will shell out literally thousands of dollars to the corporations and business interests who contribute money to the Republican party and expect a quid pro quo? Why? I don’t get it. But the Republicans will protect your gun rights, though, and pander to your prejudices and insecurities. Yes, American working man, the Republican party is your buddy; only don’t get too close. They are picking your pocket with one hand while they hand you a piddling tax rebate with the other. You have been sold a bill of goods, hoodwinked, conned. The Republican party is the party of the rich. Period. The idea that Republicans are the friends of working families trying to make ends meet is a damn lie.

The prostitutes have banded together in a new organization, France Prostitution, that will represent prostitutes and their local associations from around the country. Their main complaint is that, suddenly, they will be treated like criminals.
Mr Powell, meanwhile, spared no energies in continuing his role as a mediator between the hawks and doves. With France on board, it was time to attend to his critics in the Pentagon. America would show zero tolerance if Iraq hesitated to submit to the resolution, he told journalists on Monday. "Some can argue it can take months ... for the inspectors to look at everything they want to look at, but we will know early on whether or not Iraq is intending to cooperate," he said then. "That is the real test for Iraq."
When told of the death of Elvis Presley, his Hollywood agent is said to have remarked: "good career move". Upon learning of Winona Ryder's (rather less fatal) shoplifting conviction, I'm betting Hollywood's power-brokers are privately saying exactly the same thing.
On Tuesday, Mr. Netanyahu reiterated his view that Yasser Arafat should be expelled, possibly during a U.S. strike against Iraq.
"I think the most appropriate time [to exile Arafat] will be when Saddam Hussein is thrown out," Mr. Netanyahu told Israel TV.
The commission should be a priority of the lame-duck Congress. The commission, as agreed on by the lawmakers, should remain in the intelligence appropriations bill. If President Bush is so opposed, he can veto the bill and be forced to explain publicly why he is against an independent examination of the events of 9-11. And then Congress can override his veto.

What are the odds of there ever being a serious investigation now? Shameful ...
Found this over at the Freepers: On Wednesday's Special Report with Brit Hume, Mr. Hume had Bill Kristol on during the one-on-one segment early in the show. Mr. Kristol, citing the infamous 'senior official' in the DNC(I think it was the DNC), said he promised this official not to say what he was about to say until after the elections. His tidbit was, according to their polling, the 'rats *were* going to pickup governor seats, house seats and maybe senate seats. That was until July 19th.
Mr. Hume asked what happened on that day. Mr. Kristol's reply: Bonior and McDermott got on tv and said they believed Hussien before they'd believe President Bush.
Thanks guys and keep moving left.

The sources emphasized that the Bush administration expects future attacks to be conducted cooperatively, as this one was -- if sometimes secretly. White House press spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "The president has said very plainly to the American people that this is a war in which . . . sometimes there are going to be things that are done that the American people may never know about."
A ``worldwide caution'' issued by the department said U.S. citizens need to be vigilant and to be aware of the ``continuing threat of terrorist actions that may target civilians.''
Mir Aimal Kasi is to be executed Nov. 14 for killing two CIA employees and wounding three others outside CIA headquarters in January 1993. U.S. authorities snatched Kasi in July 1997 from a hotel in Pakistan after a four-year manhunt.

Democracy in Iraq, Mr. Wolfowitz?

"Thank God, I am for Shariah," Mr. Erdogan once said, referring to Islamic law. Another time he said, "For us, democracy is a means to an end." Perhaps most infamously, "One cannot be a secularist and a Muslim at the same time."

Can Turkey, or any Muslim country, create a system like those in many Western democracies, where religion is paid due heed, but as a matter of values, not governance? Turkey, so far, has flinched from overtly religious political leaders as a threat to its vulnerable secular state, often at the expense of full democracy.


Fazl-ur Rahman has sharply criticized President Pervez Musharraf's support for the United States and its war on terror. And while Musharraf will keep a strong grip on power no matter who is prime minister, a Rahman government would likely bring stormy tensions within the leadership of a key U.S. ally.

Senator Trent Lott, the Mississippi Republican who will again become majority leader, said the Republican gains should be seen in part as an endorsement of Bush nominees, whom Mr. Lott described as "strong on law and order."
"We're glad that Mr. Colburn is still alive," James Rytting, Mr. Colburn's lawyer, said. "We do not believe that Mr. Colburn should be executed. If there ever was a case that required the commutation of a death sentence to life, this is it."

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Hey. Dummy. You don't do movies, you don't do films. You do sad, cheap, tawdry little VIDEOS that creeps jerk off to. You're a whore and when you lose your looks you'll be a cheap whore or dead. Don't brag.
A wife and husband from New Mexico were in isolation at Beth Israel Medical Center Wednesday night with what health officials believe is bubonic plague, the first time the rare disease has been seen in the city in at least a century, health officials said.


Frieden said because it takes two to seven days for bubonic plague to become apparent, it is clear the couple contracted the disease in New Mexico.
"The resolution that we've put forward makes very clear this is a final opportunity for Iraq to disarm," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said. "Either they disarm in cooperation with the requirements of the Security Council or they are made to disarm, either through Security Council action or through action by Security Council members."
Even so, Republicans remembered how they had overestimated their mandate in the era of Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, and vowed not to repeat that mistake. One senior Republican leadership aide said: "I don't think we're going to overreach. If you overpromise, you usually underdeliver and create a whole bunch of problems for yourself."
There was a time when Democrats had some fire. "I never give them hell," said Harry Truman. "I just tell the truth and they think it's hell." That was then. Now the Democrats proceed on tiptoe, always afraid they might say the wrong thing, vote the wrong way, get burned. The party of Roosevelt, Truman and the Kennedys has morphed into the party of timidity.

The leadership void among Democrats is dangerous for both the party and the nation. The courts are being shaped by right-wing Republicans for decades to come. And there is a particular need for elected officials willing to fight for the interests of ordinary families and individuals who are struggling to keep up with such fundamental expenses as mortgages and tuition.

Although former Vice President Al Gore, the party's presidential nominee in 2000, could point to few achievements in Tuesday's results, he was singled out by disgruntled Democrats for the aggressive way in which he sounded the party's economic message during the campaign. If he chooses to run for president in 2004, he now looks like a slightly more formidable contender for the nomination.
Party insiders fired off public and private memos arguing that Democrats failed in Tuesday's elections because they were too liberal or not liberal enough. This battle-a recurring and unresolved issue for the party-may be fought next in the House, where liberal Minority Whip Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is planning to challenge moderate Rep. Martin Frost (D-Tex.) to succeed Gephardt as minority leader.
Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt intends to announce Thursday that he will not seek a new term as House Democratic leader, senior aides said.
Alterman makes a good point: ... as reported by AP, the Republican National Committee and its congressional campaign arms had outraised their Democratic counterparts by $184 million through mid-October. This does not include, of course, the billions Bush gave them through the federal government. This is the kind of thing that makes all the difference in close races and that’s just what happened last night.

... and gets off a nice line: And so we have a country that is to the left of the Democrats on the issues, but is run by people who are to the right of virtually every respectable right-wing party in Western Europe and beyond.
TAPPED: An election eve Gallup Poll found 64 percent of Republicans saying they were especially motivated to vote; just 51 percent of Democrats said the same.
Somebody get a rope; I'll look for a tall tree: "So where do we find ourselves now?" McAuliffe asked rhetorically. "Basically, the same place we were after the 2000 election - fifty-fifty. Parity. Not much has changed.
Fritz Mondale is a classy guy.
I am listening to Limbaugh. Anyone wanna bet on just how many minutes/seconds I can take of this before I turn it off? Dibs on 17 minutes after the first hour!
What happened? I think 9/11 happened. True, it wasn’t quite that simple, but it was the basic gist. It was the edge the Republicans never lost. Jonathan Freedland writes in Wednesday’s ‘Guardian’:

More crucially, the Democrats failed to craft a single, winning theme for this election. It should have been the economy, which is certainly suffering. But that message did not get through.

Instead it was cancelled out by what voters seem to have regarded as a more pressing concern - the "war on terror". And that is the second explanation for Bush's success. Simply put, 9/11 threw a protective shield around the president and his party, making any challenge to them appears unpatriotic. In normal times, with an economy in this much trouble, Democrats would have romped home. But the 9/11 shield meant any Democratic arguments about the economy - and not enough were made - just bounced off the Republicans.

Not to insinuate any ludicrous conspiracy theories, but it is a simple cold hard fact that the events of 9/11/2001 was the biggest political gift – and burden – to drop into the lap of George W. Bush and the Republican party since, well, I’m not going to get into that. Nevertheless, it is the simple truth. 9/11 legitimized Bush in the eyes of the American people. That was the perception, and in politics, of course, perception is everything. From that awful morning on, rational Americans wanted him to succeed in the War On Terror because as President, he had become the symbol, our symbol, of American hopes, dreams and, above all, security. His success was our success; his security was our security. There were (to me, disturbing) elements of the far left in this country who didn’t get that at the time, and they don’t get it now. But this was the perception of blue class middle America, what Nixon called “The Silent Majority”: that George W. Bush had been legitimized after the selection of 2000, had risen to the occasion (personally I disagree; I think any American president would have retaliated as Bush did, but this was the perception) and we needed him. Our national security had been tied to this man. It was a tragic gift of fate and, from a practical, realpolitik position; Bush and the Republicans took the ball and ran with it. The perception was that the Republicans were stronger on national security than the Democrats, and they played that for all it was worth. Remember Karl Rove’s Powerpoint disk on Republican strategy being “war war war”? Hey, it worked, didn’t it?

Not that the pussy, wishy-washy, me-too, appeasing Democrats didn’t help. With the exception of Paul Wellstone – whose plane going down in flames seems particularly metaphoric right about now – the Dems, like sheep to slaughter, compromised their beliefs, wimped out, allowed the Republicans to question their patriotism (one sad little act by Daschle, in which he resembled Dukakis in the tank, withstanding) and everything they stood for, only to make the perception of Democratic weakness stronger by playing directly into their opponents’ hands. While Bush got out there on the road and fought for his candidates, ballsily tying them to him directly, saying repeatedly on the stump “I need Mr. Blank or Ms. X in Washington” to fight for truth, justice and the American Way. And the Dems would go, “well, me too, me too”. Sickening.

Were the attacks on the patriotism of Dems, the snot-nosed, strutting bullying and downright cynicism and political hardball and exploitation of tragedy for political gain CONTEMPTIBLE? Hell, yes! But the strategy worked, didn’t it; it worked in spades. You’ve got to give ‘em credit. They took it to us and we wimped out. They played to win and the Dems played not to lose. And played not to lose with such mind-numbing weakness that it was destined to have Middle America lose respect for Democratic candidates. They were aggressive; we were passive. They understood the new political reality of post 9/11 and played the hell out it. We wimped out. Given the Bush family’s experience with the term “wimp”, I find that extraordinary. Guess Shrub learned the family lesson.

But the fundamental reason the slaughter of 11/5 was 9/11. Rove, Bush, that little shit Ralph Reed – all of them – understood that and played it for all it was worth. War war war fear fear fear. We wil protect you but look at those wimps. Democrats voted to give Bush near carte blanche in Iraq – in order not to lose! – and then expected people to trust them and keep them safe in these perilous times. Even our base was turned off at the political expediency of some (Dick Gephardt) and there is evidence to suggest, tuned out.

So now what? I’ve seen it suggested that the Democratic Party take a turn to the left; that we need to do this to demonstrate that we do stand for something. I disagree. We already stand for something; we stand for the “little fellers”, as Wellstone said. We just need to grow some balls and tell people what we stand for, without shame and without fear of losing. We need to play to win, not play to not lose. At the very least we would gain respect.

Terry McAuliffe, Daschle and Gephardt … anyone connected with this disaster must go. Now. And we must resist the urge to drift left, because it is abundantly clear that American VOTERS are NOT going to buy it. Centrism has its place. If the Democratic Party goes left in these times, it will be worse next time when more Democratic seats are at stake. Populist/left domestically, sure, but centrist otherwise. Only our courage need be tinkered with.

You know, everybody loved Paul Wellstone. Senator Domenici from New Mexico couldn’t talk to the press the day Paul died, he was weeping so. They loved him because he had the courage of his convictions and wouldn’t wimp out or stand down. He fought loudly and unashamedly for what he believed in. So did Bush and the Republicans in their own way; certainly they took no prisoners. Let us begin to fight with the passion of a Paul Wellstone and let us begin today.

But hats off to the Republicans for taking the gift they were given and running it to a temporary empire. They kicked ass, and we should both salute it and learn from it.


Lisa English writes this, and it's good.
Remember this little puppy? : Michael G. Franc, the Heritage Foundation's vice president of government relations, said the mood among business lobbyists and economic conservatives is "guarded optimism, bordering on giddiness." He said they are laying plans to take swift advantage if Republicans complete the triple crown of the White House, the House and the Senate. "It's the domestic equivalent of planning for postwar Iraq," Franc said.
Suddenly, items that had been bottled up in the Democratic Senate have new life. President Bush has new hopes for action on his conservative slate of judges, his energy plan calling for drilling in Alaska's wildlife refuge, and the policies he favors on topics such as homeland security, terrorism insurance and prescription drug coverage. With Democrats losing their ability to set the Senate schedule and launch probes of the administration, chances improve for Bush's hopes to extend last year's tax cuts, curtail jury awards, cut business regulations and overhaul Medicare.

Another priority for the White House will be passage of Bush's "faith-based" initiative to boost religious charities; officials are hopeful that proposal can be advanced in the lame-duck session. They are also confident they can enact their preferred version of legislation extending the landmark 1996 welfare reform law; the matter was shelved earlier this year after disagreements with Democrats who favored more funding and less stringent requirements.
Though it's far from clear that Bush will be able to enact broad changes in health care, Social Security or taxes, he will now have much more freedom to pursue all three.
The administration is eyeing wholesale changes to the Medicare program that would add a prescription drug benefit but inject more private-sector competition into the massive government program. The Treasury Department is also formulating a series of options to simplify or overhaul the corporate and personal income tax system. And Social Security reform advocates insist they have been promised an all-out push from the White House to enact proposals that would divert some of the Social Security payroll tax into personal accounts that could be invested in the stock market.
Recent additions to the Bush economic team indicate the White House is gearing up for a major push on health care legislation, congressional aides and health care lobbyists said. The White House could resurrect its version of HMO legislation while it pushes a prescription drug bill and tax credits for the purchase of health insurance. "I don't think it's lost on the White House that we're in a period when health care is going to be a big, big issue, legislatively and politically," said a Republican lobbyist with close ties to the White House.

That includes making last year's 10-year, $1.35 trillion tax cut permanent. Under current law, the tax cut would expire after 2010. If the proposal passes, it would be largely symbolic, because Congress can -- and almost certainly will -- vote to change tax policies over the next decade. Republicans would also likely move for a quick vote to speed up the repeal of the estate tax.
Ueland said Republicans are waiting for Bush to signal that they should move forward with a package of tax cuts aimed at investors, including proposals increasing the amount of stock losses that can be deducted from income taxes, raising the contribution limit on retirement accounts and cutting or eliminating taxes on stock dividends.
Bush has also promised proposals to curb lawsuits, especially malpractice suits, and some kind of effort to cut back business regulations, possibly on Superfund environmental cleanups.

AP says Coleman defeats Mondale.
Lesse ... so, assuming Landrieu wins her runoff and Mondale and Johnson both lose (which is the way it looks), the new Senate will have 52 Republicans, 47 Dems and 1 independent. Jesus.
48-50-2: With Talent's victory, Republicans may take control of the Senate in time for the lame-duck session set for the middle of this month. Because Carnahan was appointed to the Senate, her term will formally end when the results of Tuesday's election are certified.
But Secretary of State Matt Blunt has predicted it could take three weeks — around Nov. 26 — to certify the results.
Who do I have to fuck to get out of this place?: Former Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris was elected to Congress Tuesday, easily defeating a friend of former President Clinton.
GOOD NEWS:-> Largent Loses; Uses Stupid Football Metaphor Anyway: ``I'm going to play it till the last second of the clock,'' said Largent, a former congressman and one-time star receiver of the Seattle Seahawks.
With the midterm elections behind him, President Bush will shake up his embattled economic team and bolster it with battle-tested Washington veterans who will bring the White House a tougher-minded, more pragmatic conservatism for the run-up to the president's reelection campaign, administration and congressional sources say.

Largely under the radar, the administration is already changing its economic team. It has added a senior Senate aide who helped scuttle the Clinton administration's proposed patients' bill of rights, and a health-care lobbyist with ties to the Christian right. It shifted to the Treasury an economic conservative who has criticized .government programs that Bush now favors.

The arrival of Hennessey and Badger may also signal a new emphasis on health-care policy in Bush's reelection campaign, congressional aides and lobbyists say. Both men worked against the Clinton administration's universal health-care plan and HMO regulations. But they were also integrally involved in formulating the Republican version of patients' rights legislation and a prescription-drug benefit for the elderly.

Republican officials chortled at the momentum they believe the victories will give them as they formally launch Bush's reelection campaign over the next few months. White House aides said they now have the opportunity to enact conservative legislation that would give Bush a legacy beyond his handling of the war on terrorism.
The United States and France neared agreement today on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would establish stringent new inspection terms for Iraq and threaten possible military action against Baghdad if it fails to comply, according to U.S. and U.N. officials.
The latest diplomatic advance comes as American diplomats have voiced increasing confidence that they have lined up the nine votes required for adoption of the resolution in the 15-nation Security Council, making the Russian veto threat the last major obstacle. President Bush plans to telephone Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to explain the U.S. language and make a final appeal for support. "They're very close," White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said of the negotiations.
Analysts said it was unlikely any progress could be made in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict during an Israeli election campaign, meaning that contacts between the Israeli government and Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority will likely be reduced, providing an opportunity for tension to rise and violence to continue.
"It's going to be very dangerous," said the Palestinian minister for local government and chief negotiator with the Israelis, Saeb Erekat. "The competition between [former prime minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and Sharon will translate into more Palestinian blood, more occupation and more incursions. I'm very worried about the next three months."
North Korea has warned that it may end its freeze on missile tests, raising the ante in the standoff over U.S. demands that it end its program to make fuel for a nuclear weapon.
The warning, carried by the official North Korean news agency, was directed at Japan, which is under pressure by the United States to halt recent diplomatic progress toward normalizing ties and extending economic aid to the dictatorial government.
Analysts had predicted North Korea would respond by increasing threats. Some experts said they expected the government to stage a missile test or move spent reactor fuel away from international supervision to increase pressure on the United States to negotiate.

Mr. Pitt announced his resignation just before 9 o'clock as polls were closing nationwide. For days, he had insisted he would continue to serve as long as he had the confidence of the president. At the same time, White House officials strained to try to keep the growing crisis at the agency from becoming a political issue that would remind voters of Washington's response to corporate scandals. The officials publicly voiced support for him but privately expressed deep anger about his stewardship.<i>
Under the rules that Mr. Bush had approved, his personal approval for specific operations was not required. He had delegated operational control over Predator strikes against Al Qaeda to his military and intelligence team. Officials would not identify the officials who did approve the strike.
Josh Marshall tells it like it is.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

Interesting blog: True Porn Clerk Stories
But Pai's attitude to women and sex was far from exceptional at Enron. Several women who worked at Enron said that Skilling and the young traders who dominated the company viewed women as a commodity that could be bought and sold just like gas, electricity, or any of the other products Enron was trading. And since Houston's strip clubs are among the best in the country, it was only natural that Enron's boy geniuses visited them regularly.
NBC, which is owned by General Electric, 6th on the Fortune 500 list of corporations, has hired Rush Limbaugh as an election analyst tonight.
Atrios with yet another reason to hate Tom “The Exterminator” Delay.
Daily Kos on elections, Shrub's pomposity.
Such a question may sound like the opening line of a joke. But a new study released on Monday goes to painstaking lengths to show that consumers should not believe everything they read on Web sites, even from sites claiming to be authoritative sources.
In Baghdad, President Saddam Hussein softened his tone about the resolution, saying Iraq would "take it into consideration" as long as it "respects the United Nations Charter and international law."

Mr. Castañeda said the new draft would include a "carrot" proposed by Mexico, making it clear that Iraq could avoid war and further economic sanctions if it disarmed.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called new elections, to be held within 90 days, saying Tuesday that he had no choice and accusing his former coalition partners of irresponsibility for causing his government to fall.

Sharon said that from his first day in office, two years ago, he decided not to succumb to political blackmail, and that he would not do so now. He said that under no circumstances would he endanger the special relationship between his administration and the White House.
One can disagree with the calls for war, as I do, but liberals discredit themselves when they claim that the only reasons Mr. Bush could be planning an invasion are finishing Daddy's work, helping his oil buddies or diverting voters from corporate scandals. If we're to convince Americans of the perils of invasion, it'll be by citing arguments rather than epithets.

No, they're not the only reasons, but they are very definately in the mix.
A Bush administration intelligence review has concluded that four nations -- including Iraq and North Korea -- possess covert stocks of the smallpox pathogen, according to two officials who received classified briefings. Records and operations manuals captured this year in Afghanistan and elsewhere, they said, also disclosed that Osama bin Laden devoted money and personnel to pursue smallpox, among other biological weapons.
Most dramatically, the NATO heads of government could announce creation of a multi-national rapid deployment force of about 21,000 troops that would allow NATO to operate quickly and effectively against new enemies far from Europe, the area NATO was formed to protect against the Soviet Union 53 years ago. NATO members may also announce commitments to acquire new aircraft and equipment that would make this an effective force and allow it to deploy on a week's notice.
Goddamn why is everything in italics?
Many swing voters said they found Cheney a reassuring teammate for George W. Bush, and fans at the vice president's rallies still praise him with terms like competence, dignity and experience. "I don't want to insult President Bush, but -- you know!" said Spencer Harrison, 17, who was among the Young Republicans at the North Carolina event.
"You treat him to a level of wellness so you can kill him," Mr. Lovelace said. "That really creates a question in my mind of whether or not we have a humane application of the death penalty for people with mental illness."
At some point this fall, in the backrooms of the U.N. and in capitals around the world, a debate that the U.S. wanted to be about Saddam and his weapons turned out to be one about Bush and his instincts. The President's red alert on Iraq is what hastened the U.N.'s effort to send weapons inspectors back to Baghdad--but the threats that were designed to scare America's enemies frightened its allies as well. They hear beneath Bush's words a new Manifest Destiny, in which the world's lone superpower obeys only the laws that suit it and respects only the nations that resemble it.

America could fire Saudi Arabia as its Arab proxy unless it changes its medieval ways, jump-start the Middle East peace process and spark an outbreak of secular prosperity, so that the soil becomes less h! ospitable to the next generation of Osama bin Ladens. The emirs aren't quite ready for those talking points, but some true believers in Bush Land have dreamed of them for years.
These are laudable goals, but trying to achieve them could mean detonating the entire Middle East and wrecking the economy, estranging America's allies and enraging its enemies. It could mean nonstop al-Jazeera TV footage not of Iraqis welcoming G.I.s in the streets but of fighting them while the world's jihadists cheer and moderate Muslim leaders either crack down hard or are toppled themselves. A campaign to make the world safer may wind up making it even more dangerous, as every anxious European editorialist has warned. Yet the very size of the risk cuts both ways for Bush at home. Much as it unnerves people, it also convinces many that he must know something they don't or he would never try something this risky.

In Bush's view, everything that worked through 50 years of tyrant containment--treaties and deals and bribes and threats--was expunged all at once by an enemy with no home address, who can't be pressured, can't be bombed, can't be sanctioned, can only kill or be killed. "That's why I've started and stimulated a discussion on Iraq," Bush says, mixing a familiar enemy like Saddam with a new and terrifying one like al-Qaeda. If there was no visible evidence to link the two, he just used that fact to argue his point: the danger is everywhere, even if we can't see it; the threat is growing, even if we can't prove it. The Administration's argument for war is based not on the str! ength of America's Intelligence but on its weakness.

Yet when the CIA can't put hard evidence of an al-Qaeda-Iraq connection on the table, the Pentagon forms its own mini intelligence agency to find it instead. If Iraq is importing aluminum tubes, the Administration says it can only be for enriching uranium for bombs; if there are al-Qaeda agents hiding out in Iraq, they must be guests of the government. And that message has been received: nearly three-quarters of Americans surveyed think that Saddam is currently helping al-Qaeda; 71% think it is likely he was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks, something even the hawks haven't said aloud. "They just assert a reality and stick with it,! " says a former Clinton Administration official with evident frustration. "They do it with tremendous discipline. They keep it simple and use the bully pulpit, and they say it again and again and again until people believe it."

But it is also possible--and the Bush team will certainly argue as much--that the Administration had planned for things to go this way all along: that they went into the U.N. in September in as belligerent a dress as possible to shock what it regards as a risk-averse international body into action. Only in the face of a U.S. threat to go it alone would the U.N. realize it was being left behind and rouse itself to take on Saddam. Administration officials concede now that Bush wanted the U.N. not only to act but to act in a different way than it had during the bomb-and-back-off years of the Clinton era. "We're talking about a changed set of circumstances," says a top White House official. "The most important element that has changed is the fact that the U.S. is prepared to use force to enforce the resolutions."

An official put it this way: "If he defies the United Nations, we're not going to wake up the next day and go to war. We are more than willing to come back to the U.N. and discuss it."
A satellite channel broadcasts "Sex and the City." "That reflects a bad image of American women," says Nourah Alyousef, an economist who once lived in New York. "They seem loose."
But they also have an unadvertised task: practicing bombing runs against Iraqi targets.
Navy pilots are conducting mock strikes against airfields, towers and other military sites in Iraq, acquainting themselves with targets they may be called on to strike as the Bush administration prepares for a possible military campaign to topple Saddam Hussein.

The allied patrols, in fact, have grown into a low-grade war. According to Pentagon officials, Iraq has fired at allied patrols more than 130 times since mid-September.

The Lincoln is the only aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, but more are expected to arrive. The Constellation [BC note: The Constellation Battle Group left San Diego for the Northern Arabian Sea on Nov. 2] and the Harry S. Truman are scheduled to leave ports in the United States and could reach the gulf by December. The George Washington is in the Mediterranean, but could quickly reach the Persian Gulf.

The patrols are something of a double-edged sword. While they give the American pilots a chance to rehearse military attacks against the Iraqis, they also give the Iraqi air defense forces a chance to practice against allied patrols. The allies vary their formations, tactics and flight times to keep the Iraqis off guard.
The White House today rejected an offer from North Korea to open negotiations over the North's newly disclosed nuclear weapons program, with its spokesman saying there could be no talks until the program was dismantled.
Statistics released last month by the government census bureau show that for the first time in 10 years the number of people caught in the poverty trap has suddenly increased. Unemployment is up from 4.2 per cent in 2000 to 5.7 per cent last year. While the middle class shrinks, the numbers living below the official poverty line of $18,104 a year for a family of four has shot up to 33 million - from 11.3 to 11.7 per cent. That's the first increase since 1992.
While President Bush's windfall tax breaks to the super-rich breezed through Congress (with Democratic help), the proposed rise in the minimum wage is frozen.
The proportion of children without health cover has increased from 63.8 per cent to 67.1 per cent. The poverty rate for children in the US is worse than in 19 'rich' countries, according to a study by the University of Michigan.
Income statistics showed the first significant decline in average income among blacks in two decades; the white average also fell, and only Hispanics maintained their level.
But since that peak, venture capital investing, locally and nationally, has headed down a slippery slope, falling by half and then half again. Judging by the latest quarterly numbers, it is still looking for a bottom.
The commander who is planning a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq has won Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's support for a ground force well in excess of 100,000 American troops, said senior defense officials and military analysts.

"The people who thought you could do this with one or two divisions have lost the debate," said Michael O'Hanlon, a defense expert with the Brookings Institution, an independent policy institute. Rumsfeld "ultimately realized that the force of logic pushed toward moderately large numbers." The invasion is expected to be bolstered by large naval and air forces.
Sharon, a shrewd and unsubtle tactician, has figured out something that most of his counterparts, especially in Europe, have been slow to grasp: that the easiest way to get results from a bewildering and intimidating American administration, featuring multiple power centers and, occasionally, multiple policies, is to talk straight to the president. In doing so, Sharon has repeatedly succeeded in short-circuiting U.S. policies not to his liking -- including a few read out loud by Bush.
According to experts, a retaliatory nuclear strike against Baghdad in the event of a chemical or biological weapons attack against Israel has never been more likely - particularly with Ariel Sharon in power.
What isn't so silly, on the other hand, is the plutocrat-corporatist caricature of the president's domestic policy. Bush has used his campaign appearances during the past week to talk up millionaire-friendly tax cuts, and his appointees at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have jeopardized post-Enron reform under pressure from the accounting lobby. He still supports an energy bill that, despite some good electricity provisions, is packed with ridiculous giveaways for business.
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, in one of the few interviews he has given since the Gulf War, warned the United States and Britain that attacking Iraq would not be "a picnic" for their invading soldiers.
As sporadic fighting and lawlessness plague Afghanistan, the United Nations is hoping Washington will finally back the expansion of the international force now confined to Kabul.
Last month, in a formal complaint to the United Nations obtained by NEWSWEEK, the Russian detailed his under-the-table dealings with Baghdad. Luguev’s allegations provide, for the first time, hard evidence of how Saddam has cleverly used the world’s weakness for oil—and oil profits—to bypass the strict sanctions imposed on his regime after the gulf war to make himself stronger.

As the U.N. Security Council prepares to vote on an Iraq resolution this week, the fate of the world’s second largest pool of oil remains a critical question in the bitter war debate. Arab nations—and even some U.S. allies—see the entire conflict through the lens of oil, believing the United States aims to overthrow Saddam not because he is a threat, but because it wants to claim control of the estimated 112 billion barrels lurking beneath Iraq. Russia and France have been especially hesitant to go along with the U.S. war plan, worrying it could spell the end of their lucrative relationships with Iraq.

But some administration supporters say the new evidence about Saddam’s oil scams demonstrates why war may be the only way to prevent Iraq from amassing the money, and means, to develop weapons of mass destruction. “The United Nations is, in these matters, 50 percent corrupt and 50 percent incompetent,” says Richard Perle, a top adviser to the Pentagon on Iraqi policy. “The end result is, they cannot enforce a serious set of sanctions, and they’ll do no better conducting weapons inspections.”

“A number of countries—particularly France and Russia—have significant business interests here,” says one U.N. official familiar with the oil program. “I look at them and see dollar signs in their eyes.”

Israel is secretly playing a key role in U.S. preparations for possible war with Iraq, helping to train soldiers and Marines for urban warfare, conducting clandestine surveillance missions in the western Iraqi desert and allowing the United States to place combat supplies in Israel, according to U.S. Defense and intelligence officials.

Missiles launched from western Iraq could reach Israel, potentially carrying chemical or biological weapons. That could prompt an Israeli response that would drive Arab nations to Saddam's side.

But Clifford was told modifications had to be completed and the multimillion-dollar ship had to be ready to sail by Nov. 14. According to Pentagon sources, the reason for that is its destination: the Persian Gulf. The first stop for the cat, newly named Spearhead by the Army, will be Diego Garcia, the Indian Ocean atoll that would be a U.S. forward supply base for an invasion of Iraq. By the last week of November, the Army will be ready to operate an ultra-high-speed shuttle service running troops and tanks into the gulf.

The Pentagon wants to be ready by mid-December—most likely a week or so after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan ends on Dec. 5, sources say.
The Bush administration, anticipating a successful U.N. Security Council vote on an Iraq resolution, plans to embark soon on a campaign to build public support in the United States to challenge and most likely unseat Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, U.S. officials said.

A series of upcoming briefings of foreign policy groups, Iraq specialists and other opinion makers will be a "new phase," said a White House spokesman, who described the goal as building fresh public support for U.S. policy. National security adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley, will be much involved.

The committee is just getting started, installing telephones and computers last week to go with fresh business cards and stationery. Its mission statement calls for the replacement of Hussein with "a democratic government that respects the rights of the Iraqi people and ceases to threaten the community of nations." Its methods will borrow heavily from the NATO effort, including sessions with opinion makers, contacts for journalists and mass marketing when the time is ripe.
The impulse to go to the movies is at once simpler and more complicated than anyone could predict. Going to the movies is an act that takes many forms. We go to the movies in adolescent packs, on timid first dates, with minivan-loads of children or busloads of friends from the senior center and also alone, on foot, in the middle of the day. We talk back to the characters on the screen, or shush the people behind us who are doing it; we walk out in disgust, or come back the next night, or buy each successive DVD release of something we didn't much care for in the first place. We weep, we rage, we snore, we aspirate our popcorn in bursts of helpless laughter. The varieties of cinematic experience -- the means by which we sate our apparently limitless appetite for narrative, sensation, color, feeling, sound -- are in a way more lasting, more definitive and always more unpredictable than anything we see on the screen. Sometimes, after all, the most relentless hype fails to excite the audience and the surest publicity calculations go awry. Sometimes pictures succeed financially without generating enthusiasm, and we line up out of a mixture of weary habit and bored curiosity. Sometimes movies are loved not widely but intensely, so that devotion to them seems like a secret password offering entry into an exalted coterie. Sometimes we can't remember the end of a movie 20 minutes after leaving it; sometimes it troubles our sleep for weeks afterward. Regardless, we keep going. Why?
American investigators are questioning a prominent Pakistani surgeon whom they believe gave Osama bin Laden medical treatment after he escaped from his hiding place in the Tora Bora mountains of Afghanistan.
"The cells are up and active," an FBI official said of the groups believed to be embedded in most U.S. cities with sizable Islamic communities, such as New York, Detroit and Los Angeles.
Preparing to step down tomorrow after five years, the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, Charles O. Rossotti, says the agency is steadily losing the war with tax cheats, especially the wealthiest and most sophisticated among them.

The officials said the oversight subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee was to have held its first hearing on sophisticated tax cheats on Oct. 1. But the hearing was called off at the request of Mr. Rossotti, who the officials said had been ordered by the Bush administration not to testify about his views that the I.R.S. cannot adequately enforce the law without annual budget increases that keep pace with the growing number of tax returns and the increasing sophistication of tax cheats.

David Hariton, a corporate tax lawyer at Sullivan & Cromwell, said tax avoidance has become so sophisticated that "the government needs to devote 10 times as many resources as it does now if it wants to tax capital effectively."

Jack Blum, an I.R.S. consultant, has estimated that offshore evasion alone costs the government $70 billion annually.

News reports about what Mr. Rossotti wrote to the oversight board infuriated officials in the Office of Management and Budget, who insisted he make no other public comments contrary to the administration's view that the I.R.S. budget is adequate and that he say nothing about future budgets, according to senior I.R.S. officials.

Former commissioners, retired I.R.S. executives and others who work closely with the agency say it needs a large infusion of money for law enforcement to reverse the wave of tax cheating, which, they warn, will only grow, especially among corporations and high-income individuals, so long as law enforcement is weak.

BIG BABY: Mr. Ventura made his appointment at the very moment that Minnesota's two Senate rivals, Walter F. Mondale and Norm Coleman, were debating, and he did so as a deliberate insult to the "major parties," as he put it in a voice dripping with scorn. Mr. Mondale, a former Democratic senator and later vice president, is in a close, albeit abbreviated, race with Mr. Coleman, a Republican and a former mayor of St. Paul. Mr. Ventura also expressed anger that his Independence Party's Senate candidate, Jim Moore, had not been allowed to join the Mondale-Coleman debate.
The Central Intelligence Agency, using a missile fired by an unmanned Predator aircraft, killed a senior leader of Al Qaeda and five low-level associates traveling by car in Yemen on Sunday, American officials said today.

Monday, November 04, 2002

Some of you who know me know that I’m an alcoholic, and that I’ve been on the wagon since April 21, 1998. Good, right? Well, Saturday night I fell off the wagon. No, I fucking JUMPED off the wagon, head first. Like many crazed junkies (at least I know a few), I had a secret stash; in my case it was a 750 ml. bottle of Wild Turkey 101 bourbon. I had been telling myself for years that I had it to demonstrate my “willpower” but, of course, that was a lie. The truth is that, privately, I had no confidence in my own sobriety and that I had kept it in case I ever thought I needed it. Saturday night I thought I needed it.

“Why” is a private matter and a long, complex story. Suffice it to say that I learned something about the true nature of someone I loved and it hurt. I learned that everything this person had told me about their “bad” self was true, and therefore everything I had argued back about their being “good” was wrong. She was right; I was wrong. She was and is exactly the person she had always told me she was from the start. It’s a lot more tragic for her than it is for me, but I didn’t realize that Saturday night. All I felt was hurt and pain and I wanted to get far, far away from it. So I got drunk.

Took my bottle of bourbon over the railroad tracks to the Little League baseball fields and got appropriately smashed. Started mixing it with Coke but ran out of Coke and finished the bottle straight. Fell asleep in one of the dugouts and woke up with a monster of a hangover Sunday around noon. I think I got it out of my system. I need to get back to AA this week since I don’t fully trust myself.

I don't have the strength of a Don Gately.

And I need to have a serious talk with a professional, because part of me wanted to get smashed on the railroad track, dull the pain and fall asleep there. Wake up in a thousand pieces in hell sort of thing ... Why? It wouldn't have hurt her.

But I'll tell you: I feel responsible for what she is. I feel that I failed her, that I let her down. That if I had counselled her better she wouldn't be who she is. I blame myself and I need to work on that.

Anyway, that’s where I’ve been. How was your weekend?